There’s a prevailing sense throughout the past year’s worth of Nightwing comics that writer Kyle Higgins had big plans for Dick Grayson in Chicago but as soon as Forever Evil began dictating terms for the entire DC Universe the series grew a bit aimless until we reached this 2-part finale of issues #28 and #29. It’s obviously a tough situation for the writer to be in. How do you end the series in a memorable way when everyone already knows what happens next due to Forever Evil coming out half a year ago? How do you catch-up to Forever Evil at all when you have so little freedom due to it being set in stone that Nightwing must confront Zsasz? Can you synchronize with Forever Evil without sacrificing everything else you’ve been building? How do you reward your own readers who have grown invested in the lives of your supporting cast?
Kyle Higgins manages to juggle it all by going the clip show route. What do I mean by that? A clip show is often used in television for finales or milestone episodes of any kind. Typically we’ll see the characters looking back on classic episodes and it basically turns the last chapter into a nostalgic “best of” event. It’s a narrative approach that can be utilized when the animators or filmmakers are feeling particularly lazy/ just want to play it safe OR it can actually make for a powerful moment of reflection that drives the point home of what the story has been about all along or perhaps it can be used to honestly define a character and their journey. Nightwing #29 does the latter and it does it successfully. No, we’re not re-using old panels from past issues, but we are getting a number of vivid flashbacks to issues that never were and some spectacular collages that pay tribute to what happened in some of the New 52’s most memorable Dick Grayson tales. Artist Russell Dauterman does an astounding job giving Nightwing’s (well, Kyle Higgins’) final issue plenty of memorable, iconic imagery.
Of course, we need a reason to look back so fondly on what came before and a way to catch-up with the events of Forever Evil and that excuse is Jen. Jen, if you recall, is the little girl who discovered Nightwing’s identity and was so inspired by his heroism that she decided to turn the tide when tragedy arose in her own life. She hunted down Zsasz (who was in Chicago for some random reason) with Nightwing’s weapons in hand and Nightwing himself was soon to follow when issue #28 concluded. Issue #29 is told in a non-linear fashion in which a speech Nightwing gives at the end of the night is played over all the flashbacks from his life as well as scenes depicting the confrontation with Zsasz and I thought it flowed really well and left me with a pleasantly bittersweet sensation as I reached the final page. It’s a lovely send off for Nightwing with an almost Richard Donner-esque feel, but readers of Forever Evil all know what misery is in store for our hero soon after this brief moment of triumph.
More notes can be found in the spoiler tags below:
- I’m not sure how the girl tracked Zsasz down so quickly, you definitely have to suspend your disbelief on that but I doubt it’ll make too many readers bicker. It was just a simple subplot that allowed us to have what was basically a really captivating montage that took us through the entirety of Higgins’ run on Nightwing and he managed to sum up the character nicely as well. Jen and Zsasz are both just a means to an end
- It’s a damn shame we never got to see that Hero-Killer storyline play out. Higgins does a great job of tying up loose ends for most of the characters, but when folks read this series as a whole the dropped Hero Killer subplot will stick out like a sore thumb
- As for the Forever Evil connection– It doesn’t make much sense why Dick Grayson would bust Zsasz (or why Zsasz was in Chicago) and then wait until the next day to take him back to Gotham himself or why he would apparently carry the lunatic the whole way there, but that’s totally Geoff Johns’ fault for approaching it that way in Forever Evil. Despite its limitations, this issue did a good enough job filling the gap without diminishing its own farewell. On a side note, who else is really disappointed by Nightwing’s role in Forever Evil? During the hype leading up to the event I felt it was really going to be his moment to shine, but he’s been absolutely nothing but a victim in the 6 issues so far. Just a damsel in distress and little else
- You’ve been a fan of this series from the beginning
- Any sort of flashback to Dick Grayson’s Robin days makes you happy
- Russell Dauterman’s artwork impressed you in the last issue. If it did, you’re in for an even greater treat in this issue as he tackles imagery from the entirety of Dick Grayson’s history
- You’re not tuning in to see something earth-shattering. It’s not about rivaling the shock-value of Forever Evil, it’s about admiring what’s been accomplished over the past few years of Dick Grayson adventures and giving the character a fond farewell before we see what DC has planned for our hero in Forever Evil #7
Kyle Higgins’ farewell issue brings Nightwing up-to-date with issue #1 of Forever Evil, celebrates the first 29 issues of the New 52 series, and is a satisfying Dick Grayson tribute. It plays out a bit like a clip-show episode of a TV series, but should leave fans of Higgins’ run happy even if it is a shame that the Chicago Mask Killer plot thread is left hanging. With Tynion’s Nightwing #30 originally intended to be a Forever Evil Aftermath one-shot, Nightwing #29 is essentially the true ending of the New 52 Nightwing series and worth picking up for long-time readers.